Of course, as with many other men in middle age, my hearing had been on the decline for several years prior to the Big Day. I just suffered silently during those earlier years as my hearing declined — frankly, in the name of vanity (with plenty of denial thrown in).
My wife and daughters suffered not so silently: “When are you going to get your ears checked? That’s way overdue!”
It really was a significant day in my life.
I can best describe adding hearing aids to my daily personal accessories for the first time as similar to the day at 15 years old when I donned my first pair of prescription eyeglasses. Walking into my high school the next day, I expected every student and teacher in the building to gawk at me.
… What a surprise when hardly anyone paid any notice. Even my friends barely joked about my change in appearance. (I wear eyeglasses to this day.)
When I first wore my behind-the-ear Phonak Audéo Q‘s, as tiny as they are, I still half expected that students and colleagues (I was a digital-media program director and instructor at a university at the time) would notice the tiny silver wires snaking into my ears. It’s a legitimate concern, isn’t it? If you’re mostly around a bunch of people in their late teens and 20s, it’s not appealing to add to your appearance the classic symbols of getting old.
Apparently I didn’t fully learn my lesson in high school. As far as I know, no one noticed that along with my now-gray hair I sported another accoutrement of the aging Baby Boomer male: hearing aids.
But I had to test this out. Everyone I encountered could simply be behaving politely, noticing but not saying so. So, an experiment was in order. Most times when I went to lunch or had a coffee meeting with one other person, at the end of the conversation I’d ask if they noticed that I had begun wearing hearing aids.
To this date, everyone has answered that they didn’t notice. I tip my hat, then, to the Phonak designers who made the Audéo Q such a covert device. It also helps that the receiver wire leading into my ear is silver-gray (matching my hair color), and for the behind-the-ear units I chose a color that closely matches the temples of my eyeglasses.
Still, there was some nagging doubt about my hearing aids’ supposed “invisibility.” I’m pleased to say that a coffee meeting with a friend and professional colleague visiting my town recently shed the last bit of doubt about the Audéo Q’s not being essentially invisible.
I updated Dan, fellow digital-media professional and former professional musician, on my recent work, including doing some consulting and writing for Phonak. I didn’t notice the tiny grey wires snaking into Dan’s ears, until he mentioned that he had been using hearing aids very similar to mine.
OK, already! I’m convinced. … Unless when you meet me in person you have reason to stare intently at my ears, you’ll never know that I wear hearing devices.